Dog Days/Dead Media

Today has been the wildest day for technology, with copiers falling apart, messages not going through, PDFs mysteriously rendering darker, and emails landing in spam mid-thread; so if Mercury isn’t in retrograde, it really, really ought to be. I even posted this before I was ready. Sigh.

Astrology’s connection to my “style” has come up a couple of times in the past few of days; one friend zeroed in on my Aquarian bent (“a bit cerebral in your aesthetics. edgy, understated and clean. futuristic”) while another noted the broadly #crabcore vibe (“Cancer Mercury explains your posts, your memory for so much like that…. the photography and analog aesthetic”). So, I guess these photos kinda show both sides.

I really wanted to see what expired black & white film could do and I’m quite pleased with the results. I only had to boost the blacks a tiny bit in Lightroom to give the shots a little more oomph, but could have posted them unedited too, tbh.


This is the only shot that came out this way in this roll; no clue what happened but I like it. Kinda looks like an indie music album. Not exactly #bestoftheroll but a happy accident.


This filmstock is very on theme today. APS is a defunct or #deadmedia that no one is making anymore, so every roll you use is one less roll that exists. I remember when my dad first bought one of these cameras back in the 90s; he’d even considered getting into the “one-hour photo” business when he was in between jobs. He said “people will always take photos,” but just like the makers of APS, he had no idea what that would look like in only a couple of years. This format was supposed to be the future of #photography until it very much was not.


When you start learning about expired film, you see photographers in online forums saying that a roll more than X number of years old isn’t worth using because it’s unlikely that stuff that old was stored properly, etc. Others will encourage you to just have fun with it and enjoy the unpredictable results.

But why does film expire, anyway?

One major reason film becomes unusable is radiation. Film is basically sheets of thin plastic covered in a gelatin paste of silver salts called halides that are sensitive to light but also to “nonvisible portions of the electromagnetic spectrum.” That’s why you’re advised to keep your film out of X-ray machines; it’s also why film manufactured around or after 1945 exists in a very different environment than before.

According to a NASA study, film fogging “occurs when photographic materials absorb uniform levels of energy that is part of an intended photographic exposure. Fog affects the coarsest portions of the photographic media that comprise the most light-sensitive portions of films. … As a result, detail there may be absent in the final imagery.“

There’s radiation in space, which explains why NASA gives a shit; but there’s also radiation anywhere nuclear energy was produced, deployed, or leaked—that’s why the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Scientific and Technical Information cares too.

In fact, part of the story of #photography is the tale of that moment “When #Kodak Accidentally Discovered an A-Bomb Testing,” as puts it. How cute. What fun.

This set is inspired by stories like these. I took these shots one Saturday night, without flash, on a roll of #KonicaJX400 APS that expired in 1998 that I asked the developer to “push,” to really turn things up to eleven. They came out pretty punk rock, don’t you think?


Are you even a photographer if you don’t do a #loversonfilm? We joked about sending this to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services as more proof of a bona fide relationship. Eh.

Shot in Georgetown on expired B&W #KodakAdvantix 400 APS film with an old Canon EOS IX found in a church filing cabinet.


“Shortly after the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima (August 1945), the #Kodak Company observed spotting on film that they traced back to contamination in their cardboard. Dr. J.H. Webb, a Kodak employee, studied the matter and concluded that the contamination must have come from a nuclear explosion somewhere in the U.S. In fact, it came from the world’s first nuclear explosion, the Trinity Test, that took place at Alamogordo New Mexico, July 16, 1945. Fallout from the explosion had contaminated the river water that the mill in Indiana had used to manufacture the cardboard pulp.

Recognizing the sensitivity of this information, Dr. Webb waited until 1949 before publishing the story in the open literature.” (ORAU Museum of Radiation and Radioactivity)


“The meaning of a work of #art, as the artists of past centuries can tell us, has nothing to do with what you think about it. It has to do with its action upon you. It is a form: it acts upon you. It invades your senses. It re-structures your outlook. It completely changes your attitudes, your wave-lengths. So our attitudes, our sensibilities, are completely altered by new forms, regardless of what we think about them. This is not an irrational statement, or a philosophical notion. It is a simple fact of experience.” (Marshall McLuhan)

Form and shadow in the dog days of summer.


“What’s he doing. . . ?

“Oh, he’s just being an artiste!”

“HA! We’ll see about that. . .”


“The artists have been telling us this in their own way for a long time. Don’t be taken in by the so-called content of a work of #art because it is just a sugar coating to slip past your conscious awareness to let the real work of art do its work upon you unimpeded. Artists have been telling us this for centuries…the so-called meaning is a way of lowering your guard so the form can work upon you. And the artist who sharpens his work to a high and good moral purpose gets past the guard of a good many people with the form. He even gets past his own guard: he is often the victim of his own strategies. So why is it impossible to take one thing at a time in the world we live in? The global village is not a place where one thing happens at a time. Everything happens at once. What we must have, therefore, is a means of coping with an all-at-once world The artist and philosopher can perhaps help here.” (Marshall McLuhan)

Space and duration in the dog days of summer.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *